Friday, June 21, 2013

Figueroa Debuts in Left, and More ...

Season: 47-27; Home Stand: 6-2
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

The last home stand the Durham Bulls went 7-1, this home stand they went 6-2. This is one terrific baseball team. I you haven’t seen them play you’ve missed something.

Last night’s game was, however, a bit different from many in that it was a very low-scoring affair. Overall, the Bulls scored 46 runs over the last 8 games (compared to their opponents’ 28). Even with the one-game anomaly of the 16-3 win last Monday, the Bulls are a hot team. They dominate the South Division, leading Norfolk by 9 games and are playing very good baseball.

Last night was also an interesting look at Matt Buschmann. It was his fifth appearance as a Bull and he did a good job. I worry about him mostly because he sure works hard. It took him 96 pitches for him to get through five innings last night. Compare that to J.D. Martin’s seven inning, 93 pitch performance the other day. On the other hand, he didn’t let a single run score. His ERA over these 22+ innings is a beautiful 1.59 and he’s got a nice low WHIP of 1.19. So it looks like Buschmann and his fellow newcomer Merrill Kelly will help the Bulls get through the second half of the season.

Another positive sign on the pitching front was a solid 3 innings by Juan Sandoval. A couple of short, ugly appearances early in June are messing up his stats, but if he keeps this up, he’s in for a good season.

The Bulls missed a lot of scoring opportunities last night. If they’d lost the game I’m sure we’d be wringing our hands over that. But they didn’t, so we won’t. Vince Belnome's first (of two) double set the stage to be batted in on Shelley Duncan’s single. New guy Ryan Roberts' first hit as a Durham Bull let Brandon Guyer show off his speed as he scored the winning run from first base. By the way, Belnome’s 21 doubles leads the Durham Bulls and he’s #2 in the International League.

Meanwhile, out in left field we saw Cole Figueroa catch a fly ball in the 6th inning in his new role as an outfielder. In his 532 games as a professional ballplayer he has played in the outfield exactly one time (last night, stats). That would be 0.19% of his pro career. Over in right field we had catcher Chris Gimenez. Gimenez has quite a bit of experience moving around without all his catching gear on. He’s played about half of his pro games as a catcher and the rest at 3B, 1B, and the outfield. Nevertheless, without some rosterification this road trip will be a challenge. There are only two regular outfielders on the current roster (Bourgeois and Guyer) and they need rest from time to time. And no other park has a short, Blue Monster-like outfield wall.

Outside the game —
  • Catcher Juan Apodaca was moved off the Bulls roster to the Princeton Rays. It was likely to make room for Ryan Roberts. I couldn’t see into the dugout to see if it a real move or if it was just on paper. The Princeton, West Virginia team is Rookie level and has just begun their season. My guess is that Apodaca is still around.

The Blue Jays' Triple-A team, the Buffalo Bisons, were in Durham at the end of May. The Bulls swept them 4-0. The team is a poster child for the importance of pitching. As the table shows they aren't all that much worse than the Bulls in hitting, but there’s a big spread in pitching (and much of that apparently in starting pitching). Recently they lost 3 out of 4 to Gwinnett.

1 comment:

  1. Re: Apodaca, didn't notice him the other night, either. Since it's rookie league, he may be in Princeton; he's an experienced catcher a la Crash Davis.